“We have not said no, but I tell them, there are soooooo many procedures. We have to follow alllllll the procedures!” This is how Indian politicians, bureaucrats have been dealing with the insistent demands and pressures from the US, especially on defence deals. A look at the WikiLeaks cables, accessed and reported by The Hindu…
India signed an agreement with the US in 2005 during prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington. The US had very high hopes on the "New Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship" pact, however, after five years the Americans could not gain much from the treaty or subsequent arrangements.
Indian officials and ministers used a simple method 'not to say no for anything' to deal with the increasing pressure from the US. This was revealed in the leaked US Embassy cables, accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks, which provide an insight into the military and strategic considerations of US administrations towards seeking closer ties with India.
After 2005, the US was able to sell more equipment to the Indian military, but it was eager for 'breakthrough' sales, especially after signing an end-use monitoring (EUM) pact with India in 2009. However, despite applying constant pressure on India, the US was not able to gain the desired results, especially on interoperability and access.
According to The Hindu, whatever the promises held out by the defence agreement signed in 2005, the actual balance sheet for the US is mixed today. "The primary reason for the mixed balance sheet has been democratic opposition in the polity and public life of the country, to which influential sections of the media have also contributed," the newspaper said.
The US, especially the Pentagon (the US military), had been pushing for an Access and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) and was not averse to stepping further to seek 'Cooperative Security Locations' (CSLs) in India. However, the US Embassy's cable reveals that India was not ready for these proposals and CSLs would become 'political dynamite'. The cable says, "Indian airfields and ports hold tremendous potential for CSLs. However, we have not broached this idea with the government of India (GOI), nor do we think it can soon be deployed during this divided political climate in Delhi. We are close to resolution on ACSA, but the idea of CSLs would be political dynamite here as the opposition parties and Left would exploit this against the ruling party." (cable 30136, dated 5 April 2005: secret)
Before, the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Washington in June 2005, an Indian official advised the US administration on how to counter the general sceptical tenor of media coverage. According to a cable (cable 31045, dated 19 April 2005: confidential), S Jaishankar, joint secretary, at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), who is at present the Indian ambassador to China, described "defence correspondents as the most dubious of change in the Indo-US relationship". In a meeting with assistant secretary of state, Christina Rocca, the Indian official suggested a top US general to speak with them (the defence correspondents) during his forthcoming visit in order to 'make in-roads into this constituency'. "He (Mr Jaishankar) also pointed to 'conversions' such as Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash who had been doubtful about the US as a partner only a few months ago, but had 'turned around' as a result of his visit to the US in March," the cable revealed.
The latest cable that WiliLeaks has is from 2009, in which the US Embassy blames politicians and bureaucrats for slowing down relationships that military officials were keen to go ahead with. The Flournoy sceneletter and other cables addressed to Hillary Clinton, said, "While the Indian uniformed leadership of all three Services, and in particular the Indian Navy, appreciate their improving ties with the United States military, bureaucratic inertia and recalcitrant officials in the Ministries of External Affairs and Defense continue to complicate attempts to improve the partnership."
The secret cable sent under the name of ambassador Timothy Roemer, noted that the "civilian leadership (politicians in India) continues to defer on key foundational documents necessary to move the US-India mil-to-mil relationship closer." This, the ambassador noted, was "for fear that the political opposition would seize on it to further their often repeated claims that India is sub-serving its foreign policy to that of the US."
(Read the complete report here: http://www.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/)
Whoever Wednesday’s winner may be, the cricket clash is going to cost both countries millions of man-hours—and crores in revenues
Corruption and poverty are the twin demons that will eventually derail the economic progress of India and Pakistan. But working citizens of both countries would rather watch the upcoming World Cup clash. Apart from a few NGOs and concerned citizens, nobody seems to be bothered about our sorry state of affairs.
The pitch is being laid at Mohali for the semi-final to be played between India and Pakistan on Wednesday, 30th March. The cricket-crazy subcontinent is already reeling under the fever of what has been dubbed "the final before the final." But let's queer the pitch.
Here are a few voices of sanity. Some NGOs (click on http://indiaagainstcorruption.org or http://groups-beta.google.com/group/JVPDNorthWestALM?hl=en in case you want to post messages to be read by all group members and wish to interact with them. You can also visit http://jvpdnwalm.wikispaces.com). These entities are exhorting people not to lose sight of the larger issues of corruption, scams and poverty.
Indeed, as Moneylife Foundation has pointed out: "Moneylife Foundation, which works to spread financial literacy also believes that economic liberalisation has increased the pressure on people to understand financial products as well the implications of free markets in telecom, electricity, and road infrastructure. For instance, we now need to be vigilant about how many times we pay toll on our national highways and how soon is the money recovered. Hidden costs added to our phone and electricity bills and the rampant mis-selling by bankers who used to be a byword for trust. These serious issues are lost in the hype and jingoism surrounding cricket matches."
As far as the amount of money and productivity that are going to be lost due to the ICC World Cup 2011, here are some details from trade body ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India): "India Inc may register a significant drop in productivity during the month of February-March 2011 as one in five employees plans to take time off or reduce working hours to watch the ICC World Cup." These were from the results of an ASSOCHAM survey.
As ASSOCHAM says, the World Cup could translate into millions of man-hours of lost productivity. At least 10-12 million people will watch the match and this will result in a productivity loss of 768 million man hours (12 million x 8 hours x 8 matches).
The trade body adds: "The actual level of absenteeism is likely to be even higher, due to post-match celebrations or lack of sleep, as fans stay up late to watch the games."
It is found that 20% of respondents indicated their intention to take at least some time off from work. Just over half of the respondents said they intended to work shorter days for much of the month-long event, with the rest indicating that they planned either to request days off using their annual leave, or simply call in sick.
This cricket fever is going to cost (we're just talking India and Pakistan here) millions of man-hours and crores of rupees in lost productivity. The real war that these South Asian neighbours need to fight is not on the cricket pitch-but against the mind-numbing poverty and rampant corruption that should be the main preoccupation for both prime ministers-Yousaf Raza Gilani and Manmohan Singh.
These heads of state will obviously discuss all the 'disputes' (too numerous to be detailed here) which have kept these two neighbours apart, more than 60 years after Partition, before the 'mother of all clashes.'
But the real war between India and Pakistan is not the battle which was played out on the desert sands of Khem Karan (a town in Punjab, the site of the largest-ever tank battle since WWII in the 1965 Indo-Pak war) or even Mohali, the scene of Wednesday's cricket clash.
The real war is on poverty. Here are some statistics which will give you the sorry picture, we'll start with India. Our nation is estimated to have one-third of the world's poor. The World Bank estimates that 456 million Indians (41.6% of the total population) now live under the global poverty line of $1.25 per day, in PPP (purchasing power parity) terms. Though the great India Growth Engine is still chugging along, growth has been extremely uneven. Yes, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
Let's move west, and cross the Wagah. The number of (recorded) people living in poverty in Pakistan rose from 22%-26% in the fiscal year 1991 to 32%-35% in the fiscal year 1999. Just 10% of our neighbour's population earns 27.6% of the country's income.
The real war which both the countries have to (jointly) battle is against corruption. It is unfortunate that both countries are spending billions on (US) weapon purchases to arm each other, where Islamabad and New Delhi accuse each other of a 'trust deficit'-when the real battle is against corruption.
May be that is why Mr (10%) Zardari won't be coming to Mohali.
So by all means, let's support India-and pray that Sachin belts Shoaib again out of the park-but let us all make it to work. Because that work is only what will really support India.
The choice is yours-cricket versus corruption. Are you game?
Wine industry says cancellation of licence fee and earnest money deposit will encourage small wine businesses and thus boost sales in the state. It hopes rest of the states will follow suit
The Delhi government has agreed to scrap registration fees for new wineries looking to sell their products in the state. This will be effective from 1 May 2011.
The decision was taken at the instance of the All India Wine Producers' Association (AIWPA) which also met Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit to put their case before the government.
Till now, new wine businesses wanting to enter the Delhi market were required to pay one-time licence fees (L-1F) of Rs5 lakh and an earnest money deposit (EMD) of Rs2.5 lakh on each brand that they introduce in the state. "This was unaffordable for small wineries and became the biggest impediment for such businesses entering the Delhi market," said Jagdish Holkar, president, AIWPA. Now, the new concession should help push up wine sales in the state.
Mr Holkar said, "The L-1 fee and EMD charge were the main entry point barriers for small wineries to enter a market like Delhi. With the decision to cancel the charges, we hope to see a boost in sales." Henceforward, these businesses will have to pay only a labour registration fee of Rs50,000 at the time of registration.
Mr Holkar also pointed out that the existing duty structure for wines in Delhi liberal for imported brands and adverse for Indian-made wines. "Whereas, big wineries can afford the high cost, small-sized wineries find it very difficult."
Changes have also been made in the duty structure. Excise duty will now be 45% on the wholesale price of a bottle. Some other small charges and taxes have also been abolished.
The Indian wine industry, which after a lean period of two years is showing signs of growth, hopes that other states will take a cue from these changes made by the Delhi government. "The reason we pushed for changes in the wine policy in the national capital is that once the policy is altered in Delhi, there is a better possibility that other states will follow suit," Mr Holkar said.
The association is working to bring changes in the wine policy in the country to enable the industry realise its potential better. "There should be a separate policy for wines and a uniform duty structure throughout India," Mr Holkar said.